#isteglobalpln Twitter Chat: Getting connected – Starting to collaborate

An twitter chat took place yesterday as part of the ISTE Global Collaboration PLN group. The topic of conversation was “Getting connected – Starting to collaborate”. #isteglobalpln This chat was moderated by Julie Lindsay and me. The questions were:-

questions

How would you have answered these questions?

Safer Internet Use Day

Today is Safer Internet Day #sid2015 – a globally recognised day organised by Insafe. In First Aid, one of the first lessons to learn is DR ABC. The D being of prime importance as it stands for DANGER. When using the internet, it is important that students also learn of the dangers, so they can protect themselves as much as possible. As our Australian school year starts, this is a timely lesson and should be enforced whenever technology is used.

resizied image

Australian Cybersmart organised webinars to be held throughout Australia for classes of students in years 4, 5 and 6 today. In Victoria, Digtial Learning partnered with ACMA to provide a webinar at 10:30am with more than 130 classes and more than 20,000 students logged in – a wonderful number to reach, all learning and sharing together under the guidance of an expert speaker. Popular Greg Gebhart ran a presentation on “Being a Good Bystander” using case studies, discussion, graphics, real world examples and time for feedback and reflection. Teachers were given the opportunity to test entry into blackboard collaborate, the virtual classroom software to be used the day before with help support provided by telephone on the day.

Students were also given the opportunity to participate as individuals in a chat or backchannel using Todaysmeet. Due to the large number of students online in the backchannel, the chat was fast and furious with some wonderful sharing by most students and lots of ideas on how to support their fellow peers. This is an amazing example of technology allowing students anywhere and everywhere to connect and learn. There were small rural schools, huge city schools, private and government schools all in the one classroom, connecting together and most importantly sharing their learning and experiences.

For Victorian teachers, further resources are available on FUSE for follow up activities and a game called “The Postie” was highly recommended.

What did you do for Safer Internet Day?

 

 

 

It’s 30 degrees – global weather contradictions!

summer here
path between snow

It is 30 degrees in Boston, USA according to Lorraine Leo, a teacher there but she showed photos of snow. My students related that it will be 30 and 31 degrees here in southern Australia, but that meant it would quite a hot day for us! How could this be?

It was the first ICT class for year 8 ICT – a group of 23 students. I like how Reinhard Marx in Germany introduces his students to global connections in their very first week of school to set the scene for a year of global collaboration and communication.

A skype chat with a great colleague, Lorraine Leo alerted me to the fact that she had just been notified that there was no school that day due to the heavy snow falls in Boston, USA. This was the second consecutive day this week and students had also missed school last week for 2 days due to snow. A couple of nights ago Australian television news actively highlighted the potential weather extremes on New York City.

Always aware of using up online colleagues’ spare time to connect with my students, I asked whether she might skype us the next morning to share the weather and snow falls with my year 8 class.

cars in the snow at night

Lorraine kindly agreed and we discussed the possible tools. We would start with a mystery skype, using skype, then use the virtual classroom software, Blackboard Collaborate to share images, Lorraine’s audio to present and enable students to use the chat to ask questions, provide feedback on the images and generally share. As a backup I created a backchannel in Todaysmeet Whatweather for conversations and skype would be used for the video projection. (we did not use this during the presentation but in the last 8 mins of class time, students quickly answered some questions that I put in there).

Students were quick to work out where Lorraine was from. They then logged into Blackboard Collaborate. However, we faced technical hitches as many computers had to download the launcher and experienced a slow bandwidth, took a long time to do so. We perservered and started with the presentation, with some students sharing desktops!

Lorraine expertly talked about the current conditions and had some wonderful photos to share with the students. Students asked some great questions in the chat, were quiet, engaged and listened intently. The subject of 30 degree temperatures was compared and what a great global lesson – different countries have different units of measurement!

Below are the comments from the students sharing what they liked about this synchronous lesson and some of what they learnt!

Kailyn:  I liked that we are talking to someone from another country and learning a bit about the different things that happen. I learnt that it is snowing there at the moment while here it is rather sunny and that over there it is night time, and here it is morning as we have just started school.

Dharma:- liked the part of the pictures of how big the snow is, and telling us about the schools sometimes being closed off.

Lisa: It was good to see the photos so I could see what Lorraine was actually talking about. Mrs Leo explained things really well.

Kyra: choose where the person was from. She said it really clearly and showed the photos of what the snow looked like especially as I have never seen snow.

Chelsea: I liked how we could see the pictures and I have never seen snow before so it was interesting to see it through pictures.

Sophie: I liked seeing the pictures and seeing what it is like in Boston.

Vesna: I liked using BbC as it is easy to connect with someone rather than skype which can glitch easily. I liked the way she presented it as we had pictures to see what it looked like and not just telling us about it which made it more interesting. I liked the flowers representing spring with the icicles in the window.

Isaac: The snow was pretty cool! It looks pretty fun! I liked the church picture with the person skiing in front of.

Kyle: I liked seeing how much snow there was. I liked learning about what happens in Boston from someone who lives there. The people walking on the pathway to their house with snow piled up on both sides.

Jonas: I liked seeing how much snow there was around the houses and seeing how high the snow was. I liked the people walking to their houses with the snow piled hight.

Zac: I liked the pictures of the snow and the one with the man snowboarding on the hill where a church was located.

Terri, I liked all the pictures of the snow. It was really interesting. I wish it would snow here. I learnt that snow can be very heavy and lie in big heaps.

Skyla: I liked seeing all the snow because we do not get it here. It was interesting to see how cold it gets. I learned that it snowed in Boston. I thought it was always hot. As when I visited USA it was really hot.

Teneika: I learnt that there was snow in America because my Dad’s family live in America and they have never mentioned snow. I liked how she had pictures as she was talking so you could see rather than just listen.

Lucy:  That my technology worked and I got into BbC. Mrs Leo took time to speak to us. I liked seeing the snow as it is a novelty to us. I learnt that it is a lot different over there like weatherwise at the minute.

Taylah: I liked every picture that was shown , was explained by Mrs Leo. I learnt that it is snowing over there, so the students cannot go to school and have 2 days off last week and 2 days off this week.

Caitlin: I liked how she taught us about Boston- the weather and what she does in her spare time and that she is a teacher. I found it interesting that it snows over there and that she has 238 students in her school.

Thank you Lorraine for allowing me to use the photos that you took the time to take for us. As you can see, the students frequently commented on seeing what it looked like rather than hearing what it was like! A memorable photo was this one, of roses (a sign of spring) in a florist shop with the tell tale signs of the current weather conditions (icicles) in the window.

roses with icicles

10 things to do at the start of the school year

start of school

This week will be the start of our first full week back at school for the Victorian (Australian) school year of 2015. I love the excitement of a new year, with classes returning, new classes starting, students enjoying being back together again, excited conversations, catching up with everyone etc.

It is a time to get organised, set the scene for learning and connect with the students. The bulk of my teaching load is Information and Communications Technology from years 7 to 12 and this is what I will be doing this week:

  1. Reconnect with my professional learning network on twitter, skype groups, email lists etc and be increasingly active after a 5 week summer holiday break.
  2. Connect with my students – get to know them, their learning styles, their strong points, interests, extra curricular activities, technology use outside school etc. Each new class will start with a backchannel chat using TodaysMeet with a series of questions each student will resond to simultaneously. The room is booked for 12 months, so that I can go back time and again and see what they say about themselves.
  3. Connect students beyond our classroom walls. Search out some sessions with other national and global teachers, classes and experts. Take a thorough look at skype in education for those who are actively seeking connections, expert speakers and community members who are willing to share for free over videoconferencing.
  4. Actively seek out global projects for each class. Register year 9/10 and 11 for the Flat Connections Global Project (a personal favourite.)
  5. Ensure all students have an individual blogs (I use global2 blogs) which our Department of Education and Training provide us with through their campus license.
  6. Ensure that all students can access MS 365 of which we are a trial school so that work can be saved and accessed in the cloud and that group learning can take place.
  7. Students will add a snapshot of their timetable to both a post and a page on their blog. Another  post will list the subjects studied, another share three learning goals for the year.
  8. If time permits they will share another post on “Ten things you don’t know about me”
  9. Catch up on updates on twitter, google+ and a variety of educational blogs, including those targeted with upcoming events and resources for Victorian teachers eg global2, Digital learning, fuse, abc splash and a firm favourite Free technology for teachers
  10. Actively participate in the organisation of the upcoming OZeLIVE conference – a virtual conference that will run in Australia friendly times.

A surprise glimpse at the South Pole

my ice sheets

 

As our son and his family live in Sth Africa, so we flew to Johannesburg with Qantas to visit them just after Christmas.

A surprise element of this flight was that our flight path took us over the edge of the South Pole. A flight attendant had alerted us to this fact prior to our take off so we were on alert after 6 hours flying and keenly sought advice when we were actually flying over. Despite the fact that lights were out and window shades shut, half the plane awoke, pulled up the shades and looked to see what we could.

icebergs

We peered closely through the airplane windows and could make out the first icebergs as we flew over. Then we started to sight the sheets of ice and gained a real insight into what the centre of Antarctica might look like.

Access to the windows on the right hand side was keenly sought by other passengers, and we took photos when and where we could. It was exciting for us all as many people pay to take sight seeing flights over the South Pole, but here we were getting that package as part of our flight to Sth Africa.

good ice sheets

 

Please note that my good friend from Russia, Tatyana Chernaya, has asked for some details of this surprise glimpse with her students who are studying the weather.

Australia Day – a day to celebrate

australia day on the wharf flag
Today is Australia Day, a time for us as Australians to celebrate what we enjoy and experience in our wonderful country. It is a day of celebrations, ceremonies, relaxation, barbecues, enjoyment of our great outdoors and socialization. It is a public holiday for all.

It is also of interest that it is Republic Day for India and much as I would love to connect our students with those in India, school has not yet returned for us. So special thoughts go to our friends from India also on this special day. Yesterday was Chinese New Year. The week is full of many festivities.

Does your country have a special day?

When Santa stole the show!

Santa takes a rest!

Santa takes a rest!

For several months, a connection with a school in a rural area of Japan has been formally planned. Test connections took place and we got a glimpse of the classroom without students.

The empty Japanese classroom

The empty Japanese classroom

This was my first quite formal connection as previous skype linkups have been spontaneous, sometimes unplanned, rather relaxed with some discussion on what we would do and how it would look once we connect. The learning has often been customized by the students and teachers involved as the connection evolves. However, with Mariko, a University colleague from Japan, we had a very formal structure in place with specific briefs and time to be taken for each part of our 30 minute connection.

Meanwhile behind the scenes:

The week before, students decided to organise a KrisKringle with the presents being opened on the day of the organised Japanese linkup. Names were drawn out of a hat so that the girls knew who their gift recipient was to be, would spend up to $10 on the gift and decided to open them prior to the Japanese web conference. Meanwhile, staff decided during the week to have a smorgasboard morning tea on that same day.

Christmas goodies

Prior to the connection:

  1. On the actual day, I emailed Mariko to ask whether her students would like to hear about Christmas and how we celebrate it here if there was time. She responded yes and suggested we do it at the start of the lesson.
  2. Students collected ‘Christmas’ type items around the school eg the year 5/6 Christmas tree, examples of craft work, printouts of pictures and amazingly found a Santa costume.
  3. Students brought in their gifts and placed them in the Santa Bag.
  4. Printed off individual first names on A4 paper so that the Japanese students would see who was talking to them.

The actual connection

Students completed a survey prior to the connection to share what they already knew about Japan. Surprisingly for me, two or three said that they knew nothing at all. At the appointed time, the skype call came through. We were seated informally around the webcamera, Christmas gear discreetly out of sight and faced a very formal classroom setup with the Japanese students seated in rows, some with masks over their mouths and a couple of girls with a blanket over their knees.

students

The girls proceeded to introduce themselves one at a time, name tag clearly displayed. Then showed some of the pictures, craft work and the Christmas tree. As this was going on, a lot of noise was coming from the corner of the room. About to reprimand those who were making the noise, I saw that they were quickly trying to dress a student in the Santa costume. With no planning at all, Santa, then grabbed the presents that were placed in the Santa sack, ho ho’ed her way into to the webcamera and did the Kris Kringle on the spot!

Santa opens her gift

Santa opens her gift

There was much laughter and fun as the girls opened their presents in front of the web camera and showed what they closer to the camera. There were chocolates, lollies, lip gloss, cosmetics and jewellery. Curiousity gave way as we had to explain what some of the goods were and compare whether some of the confectionery and chocolates were available in Japan. At times we had to wait to be interpreted, a new skill for the girls to learn.

Talk then proceeded to the food we eat, when I suddenly remembered the leftovers from our smorgasboard morning tea. Leaving the girls to continue talking, I returned with some of the special cakes, chocolates and part of Christmas fruit cake. Britt Gow a fellow teacher shared her fruit cake with them and explained what it was.

Britt shares her Christmas cake

Britt shares her Christmas cake

It was then question time. Our girls wanted to know why the boys were wearing the face masks and why the girls had a rug on their knees. Too quickly it was time to say goodbye and despite the fact that we did not follow our original program, the lesson worked, was fun, student led and directed with one of our favourite festivals and Santa taking pride of place!

 

A masked student

A masked student

A kitty blanket

A kitty blanket